In 2020, the property protest looks a tad bit different than it normally does. For starters, the assessments came out later than normal. There aren’t many in person protests (way I prefer) this year and most counties are asking people to protest online along with evidence. It is important to note the following when protesting in 2020: Any impact to market value due to factors during the 2020 calendar year would not impact appraised values until the following year.
Each year, respective counties send out new tax bills for the year to be paid by December. In Texas, one of the biggest expenses for homeowners are property taxes. We don’t have state income taxes therefore most local entities such as the county, school districts, county hospitals, cities, and sometimes county community colleges are paid through the property taxes.
The 2020 property tax assessments from various counties in the metroplex have been mailed out and guess what? Your property taxes may have increased. That’s the norm in Texas. What most people are seeing are a significant increase in their home value assessment (the property tax assessment value is getting really close to market values which we will talk more about later) by their counties. The key in protesting is to make sure you are being charged your fair amount in property taxes.
Did you know fewer than 20% of homeowners appeal their property taxes? This means they may pay more than their fair share. The best thing to do is to protest them. Why? You have a chance of lowering the amount you pay in property taxes by simply saying that this is too much. Let’s make a change in 2020 until the state government decides how they want to handle the property tax reform, shall we?
Here are tips to protesting your property tax assessment:
Make sure you have filed your homestead exemption.
You have until April 30th to file your homestead exemption with your county to save money on property taxes. You only have to do this once but if you failed to do it theJanuary – April AFTER you purchased your home, this is your chance to do it. A homestead exemption helps you save money on your property taxes. It also prevents your tax value from increasing more than 10% per year.
Check for mistake’s on the county’s description on your home.
Does the county have your 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, formal dining home at 1805 square foot as 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms at 1925 square feet? It happens all the time and no one corrects it. A lot of county information is incorrect but we let it ride as gospel. Check your county’s website to make sure the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and lot size are accurate in their assessment.
Gather Your Comps
It is important to keep up with the values of homes in your neighborhood. Most time people don’t realize what other homes are selling for. To gather more accurate comps, connect with a local REALTOR to see what homes have sold for within the last 3 months or 90 days in your neighborhood. In Denton County, Texas where I am located, the county has said they assessed the values based on the value on January 1, 2020. Therefore make sure the comps represent October 2019 to January 2020. Keep recent comps on you just in case.
You can enter your address below to determine what your home is worth.
Highlight Flaws in Your Home
We all love our homes and it is the best thing since slice bread. However, this is the time to really compare your home and get very judgmental about it. If you notice most of the homes that have sold nearby all have hardwood or some wood-like material, while you have carpet everywhere, take pictures of it. If you know your home is in need of a new roof or has foundation issues, take pictures and/or provide the quotes of those repairs that are needed.
Consider the negative influences near your nearby such as backing up to a busy street, water tower behind the home, or being on the main road to the neighborhood. Those are items that an appraiser would dock off your home’s market value when it is time for you to sell, use it to your benefit for your property taxes. P.S. I am not saying to trash your home or that you won’t ever be able to sell your home, this is to save money on your property taxes. I sold a home in Fort Worth last year and my clients ended up getting the property for less because the appraiser thought it was in a less desirable location than other homes comparable to it. It’s a gorgeous home and my clients love it. However, they got a win to buy it at a lesser price.
New Construction Woes
In most cases for newly built homes, there is a tricky line for homeowners. The previous year, your home was assessed based on land value. Now, it is based on the value of the home with a home on it. Check the price of the home that they county says your home is. Is it higher than what you paid for the home? Is it higher than what new homeowners can build the same exact home for? If your answer is yes to either one, that’s your protest. Texas is a non-disclosure state. In order to win the battle on the first one, you may have to show what you paid for your new home. The other option is to stop by the builder’s office (if they are still in the neighborhood) or pull it offline and see what your home is being sold for at base price. Is it lower than the county’s assessment? If so, your argument here is that your home has been lived in. No one is going to purchase your home for higher than what they can build their home for. Then take pictures of the things that you got standard (if you built) with the builder and haven’t updated.
Check Local Real Estate Trends
In addition to talking to your REALTOR for comps, ask them to pull the real estate trends. Homes have the potential to increase in value or appreciate. However, a property can decrease in value or depreciate. Is the price of homes sales decreasing in your zip code? A decrease in value can be caused in excess supply, lack of demand, deflation or other reasons that take away the property value. Home values fluctuate so don’t get nervous. It is just something for you to know and use in your protest. Homes appreciate normally 2-4% a year. Find out what is happening in your local area. It can be completely different from Aubrey to Crowley.
It can be that your area isn’t appreciating as much as the county THINKS it is appreciating.
Things to Remember
The county’s assessor’s don’t see the inside of your home. They can only see the outside of it. This is the time to show and prove what your home looks like. Use the knowledge that you have from the tips above to help lower your tax assessment value which in return lowers your property taxes. After you have your evidence, schedule an appointment with the county to present your case OR present the information online. It is important to protest annually to minimize your property taxes.
The counties are giving you 30 days from receipt to protest your online or through the mail. It is varying from county to county as some counties have yet to send out notices as of today. Find out how your local county tax assessor is handling property protest during COVID-19.
If you need any assistance in gathering information to present your case, contact me at via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.